Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Park Bench Café #7 - Reflections...on a Seawall Walk

Park Bench Café #7 - Park Bench on a Seawall Walk

Boxing Day - coming down from all the high celebrations of Christmas Day....time to take a quiet walk along a seawall.  The light snow dusting of yesterday has already melted from the walkway winding along the ocean along English Bay. 

Stanley Park Seawall - English Bay, Vancouver

Stanley Park is a busy place at this holiday time of year.  Avoid the bicycles and runners by all means.  Keep to the pedestrian side of the walk or you might be mowed down!  Facing the winds and waves of the open water...the winter chill meets uncovered skin and reaches into the bones...nature's way of encouraging the seeking of shelter...perhaps a dip in the walkway...a curve in the steep rocky escarpment on one side and the ocean on the other--only a few precious feet of the walkway between.  A bench butting up against the escarpment with a clear view of the grey waves dashing against the seawall...is an invitation to maximize the relative warmth of the sheltered space....a neatly folded paper lies at one end.

The holiday edition is brief and to the point.... 

"0425 hours, December 25th, 2017, as the snow settles softly on a quiet town somewhere on Earth, arising from the sleep of mild seasonal illness to reflect on life, liberty, truth, and the pursuit of all three in combo, in community, internally. 

Wondering what is to be and thinking backwards, I consider that my blogging is reduced (by choice and by circumstance) to the gracious accommodations by another blogger for my   habit of surveying the world’s news and opinion and selecting out the indicators of where we are and where we are going like some sort of self-appointed town crier.

The  hostess [ http://greencrowasthecrowflies.blogspot.com/ ] from Pacific Northwest Canada, almost a world away, boldly and audaciously suggested a theme song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIQQDYaoWpc for a small but hearty band of people who insist on being able to be themselves, on the right to make up their own mind, on the right to see things from a limited but precious perspective. The theme is suggestive of the holiday moment and the reason we celebrate, and it caused me to remember that I am descended from a people who, under some duress, gathered a small band of like-minded folk and made the hazardous journey across a wide and cold Northern ocean to a new land where they might persist long enough to worship a faith in the way that they wished, not in they way into which they were forced by state, conformity, or edict.  They brought with them some skills, a printing press, and a belief in themselves and in an upstart Nazarene who dared speak His mind and His spirit. Their social stance of protest as Protestants and their participation, some active, some aloof, in the formation of a new form of self-government, propelled them and their community forward.  Almost four hundred years later, the experiment is under siege, under the umpteenth attempt to hijack it or steer it according to the directives of others.

This could be a debate about religion, about religion and state, about the assets and benefits of one belief system versus another, about a lot of things.  But it’s not.  It’s simply a momentary offering, like that offered by many, laid at the feet of a child whose life had a very unique meaning and impact on the world.

in my case, I was baptized a Presbyterian because my mother was Scots-Irish; presumably this was her dying wish. The woman who nurtured me for the first four years of my life was an Anabaptist, a Mennonite. My eventual step-mother was a Methodist, where I got my schooling on Sunday.  I drew away from the mandatory attendance in late adolescence as I tried to compare the actions, attitudes and behaviors of elders and I began to discover the questions of my age, and my society. I explored Daoism, Buddhism, and read a lot about Christianity from sources outside the official canon. I married a Catholic in both Protestant (for the State) and Catholic (for her parents) ceremonies; eight years later, we divorced.  I married another Catholic in a civil ceremony, she separated from her Church (or, perhaps, the Church separated from her).  My father disowned me for all three acts. But as the children of the second union grew up, I had to ask what to tell them to believe in (aside from themselves). The answer emerged from the small library of 78-80 books on theology, spirituality and belief systems that accrued on my shelves at the same time I gathered together books on politics, history, deep politics, state crimes against democracy, and more. The answer emerged from within the muddle of translations, explanations and proselytization in the form of the actual words as recorded by others of the man who was crucified and whose birth we celebrate today. The Truth and the Light can be found there, and we can keep its flame inside ourselves, as has been done by millions and millions of people for over two millennia. In our own ongoing and very current battle for the right to read, think and act for ourselves, we can identify those people and those works which have a spark. I think of three by James Douglass on JFK, Gandhi, the Unspeakable, resistance and contemplation.  There are many others, in books, online, and through them we can find and form community and sustenance of spirit."

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